Engines for Model Aircraft cont.

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Meanwhile Europe-in particular Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Czechoslovakia wholeheartedly embraced the model diesel-and found that it was equally at home in model aircraft, model cars and model boats-had a useful power output, and could be produced in very small sizes-and from 1946 onwards an increasing number of makes and models appeared on the scene-including tiny engines of 0.16cc (France), 0.2cc (UK) and at the other end of the scale-in Italy and Czechoslovakia in particular-10 and 12cc engines. Experience showed that large diesels were not especially pleasant-harsh running, and sometimes vicious to start, whereas the very small ones had extremely critical engineering fits-especially in the piston cylinder area, and were often fussy about fuel mixes and temperamental to start. Diesels largely became standardised in the range 0.5cc-5cc displacement-with the majority of engines being manufactured in the 1cc-3.5cc displacement range. 

Returning to the glowplug, this was more of an evolutionary development, as high performance spark ignition engines had been using methanol fuels for several years, and the habit of competitors of filing down the sparkplug electrodes for a hotter spark, and the use of nitroparaffin power boosters in engine fuels frequently resulted in engines continuing to run after the ignition circuit was broken-the glowplug took advantage of this phenomenon-and by using platinum wire in association with methanol fuels, added a catalytic heating effect to the mix-and allowed the spark coil and on board batteries to be dispensed with-all that was now required, was the use of a battery (1.5-2V) to heat the glowplug while the engine was being started-and once running, the battery could be safely disconnected without affecting the operation of the engine.

Glow plugs however were fragile-and the elements expensive platinum-easily burnt out by high compression ratios and high nitro fuels-common in racing engines-so the earliest plugs on the market had replaceable elements. Many spark ignition engines could be simply converted by replacing the ¼-32 thread or 3/8-24 thread miniature spark plug by a glowplug, and running a methanol fuel-the often troublesome ignition points now being superfluous-and often removed-and in the late 40’s many US manufacturers simply continued offering their spark ignition models with their points removed and a glowplug fitted into the early 50’s before upgrading and putting new designs into production. What the glowplug did allow-along with the removal of all the problems associated with spark ignition engines-was the production of very small, very light engines-as there seemed to be no limit to how small you could produce a glowplug engine-and in the US, the K&B Infant of 0.02 cu ins (0.33cc) appeared in 1949-and started a revolution for small models and engines which has continued ever since.

The advent of the glowplug in 1947 allowed the development of tiny glow engines such as this 1948 K&B Infant Torpedo of .020 cu ins or 0.33cc

American postwar surplus industrial capacity allowed the cheap mass production of the glowplug engine in a variety of sizes all through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s before competition from Japanese-and in recent times-Chinese, imports largely weeded out most of the larger US manufacturers-leaving only two-K&B Manufacturing and Fox Manufacturing surviving from the myriad of large and small producers of the 1940s and 50’s. A number of specialist niche manufacturers-Nelson, Jett and several replica ignition engine manufacturers still survive serving the racing and vintage markets respectively, and these are complemented by manufacturers producing either purpose designed or converted industrial single and multicylinder engines for the large model and/or UAV market.

In the UK the model engine industry rapidly expanded in the late 40s-with a number of short lived manufacturers and designs, consolidated in the 50’s and went into slow decline from the mid 60’s with only two manufacturers-Davies Charlton and PAW surviving into the mid 80’s before DC ceased manufacture-its place being taken by Irvine Engines-hitherto merely a distributor-but in present times one of the only two major domestic model engine manufacturers in the UK-the other being the perennial PAW (Progress Aero Works-a family run business still in the hands of the Eifflander family)-currently the world’s largest manufacturer of model diesel engines. They are supported by a number of smaller volume specialist manufacturers involved either in the replica or 4-stroke market

In both Europe and Japan manufacturers adopted both the diesel and glowplug with equal fervour until the mid 60’s when the increasing interest in radio control, and the need for effective throttle control lead to the preponderance of larger glowplug engines in manufacturers product lines, and the waning of the general purpose diesel engine except for a few small beginners designs-a situation that largely continues today. Russia, after being known for producing little more than  crude copies of a few successful western designs in the 50’s through to the 80’s, emerged as a major manufacturer in the early 90’s producing both extremely high quality specialist engines for team racing, speed, combat , free flight and control line aerobatics as well as low cost well engineered general purpose engines for radio control use. As well they have exploited the world wide trend towards nostalgia exemplified by the ‘retro’ movement by producing a wide variety of well engineered replicas of earlier popular vintage western engines in both original and scaled down sizes, which have found a ready market among collectors and vintage aficionados.

The photos and notes accompanying this article will provide some illustration of a variety of brands, designs and styles of model aero engine dating back over the past 60+ years from a number of different countries.

United Kingdom
ED (Electronic Developments) engines
Frog engines
Davies Charlton engines
Eta Instruments engines
Elfin engines
Mills engines
AM (Allen Mercury) engines
PAW engines
Kalper engines
Webra engines
Taifun engines
Zeiss Jena engines
Schlosser engines

China (mainland)
CS engines
Yin Yan
ASP engines

OS engines
Enya engines
G-Mark engines
Fuji engin

China Taiwan
Thunder Tiger engines

Austria        HP engines

Czech republic
MVVS engines
MP Jet engines
John engines

Cox engines
Fox engines
K&B engines
Ohlsson and Rice engines

Stels engines
Cyclon engines
VA engines
MDS engines
Aviant engine
OTM engines

Barbini engines
Super Tigre engines
Rossi engines
Picco engines
Cipolla engines

Taipan engines
Doonside engines

New Zealand
Katipo diesel

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